WATERLOO – The Johnny Cash jukebox musical “Ring of Fire” hits the boards at Hope Martin Theatre for performances beginning Friday.
Director Greg Holt describes the show as biographic in nature, but it’s more about celebrating the Man in Black’s story through his music and recordings.
“It’s a different kind of production for us, a very song-based, almost concert-style production. The show celebrates Cash’s life, his faith and struggles, his music and his relationship with June Carter Cash. It’s very ensemble-driven, so everyone — and no one — portrays Cash. Instead, couples and individuals take turn singing his songs,” Holt says.
“No one is impersonating Cash, so that takes the pressure off us.”
There are 30 Cash songs in the production, including “I Walk the Line,” “Daddy Sang Bass,” “A Boy Named Sue, “I’ve Been Everywhere” and “Ring of Fire.”
“Country music aficionados will enjoy the show, and it will relate to people who may not like country music but liked Cash’s rugged, tough persona. That outlaw persona he had was appealing to people,” Holt explains.
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The original musical was conceived by William Mead and created and directed by Richard Maltby Jr., and opened on Broadway in 2006. Holt says the use of both male and female voices “adds to the universality of the show.”
Cast members are Cassidy Atchison, Carole Deeds, Chelsey Linza, Tony John, Josh Pannoff, Hannah Smith and Nathaniel Smith.
Music Director Jim Waterbury has put together a band of high-quality musicians who are integral to the show, Holt says. The band will be on stage and features Bryan Houts, keyboard; Ed Flack, drums; Andrew Clohessey, bass; and John Purdy, guitar.
Costume designer is Jana Fairbanks, and lighting designer is Devin Schupp.
Holt designed the stage to recall the barn-like setting of the Grand Ole Opry stage.
“It’s a fun show with lots of good music that people can sing along with and stomp their feet,” Holt adds.